Active Trans publishes groundbreaking design manual
Active Transportation Alliance is proud to announce the publication of our
new design manual, *Complete Streets, Complete Networks*. The manual is a
visually compelling introduction to the principles of Complete Streets
roadway design and an elegant collection of resources for planners.
Over two years in the making, the *Complete Streets, Complete
Networks*manual was conceived as a catalyst for new professional
practices in urban
design. It serves as a comprehensive list of best practices, guidelines,
and project delivery processes.
But it goes beyond traditional roadway design guidance to include a policy
framework that city planners designers and decision makers can follow to
create great places to bike, walk and use transit.
The manual was funded through the Cook County Communities Putting
Prevention to Work initiative, which was created to improve access to
physical activity and nutrition through changes to policies, systems and
the built environment. As part of this project, Active Transportation
Alliance was contracted to help 25 local governments and school districts
in suburban Cook County develop and enact policies and plans to improve the
bicycling, pedestrian, and transit networks in the communities. The *Complete
Streets, Complete Networks* manual is a resource to help these and other
communities create healthier transportation choices.
We have a limited supply of printed copies of *Complete Streets, Complete
Networks*. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, please e-mail Dan
Persky, Director of Planning and Policy, at
A downloadable version of the manual is available
We are in the process of uploading highlights from the manual in the form
of Word files, Excel tables, photos, and illustrations. We’ll post updates
as more of this content is made available.
Active transportation network expanded in Steinbach
Posted on 07/26/2012, 10:09 am, by the City of Steinbach
Walkers, runners, cyclists, and rollerblading enthusiasts will be happy to
note that there is another paved active route in Steinbach.
The City reports that the newly paved pathway through L.A. Barkman Park and
the Steinbach Soccer Park, all the way to PTH 52 West, was completed on
A second edition of the City’s Share the Road brochure, showing Steinbach’s
active walk/cycle routes, will become available early August.
[image: Inline image 1]
Pathway through Soccer Park connecting to LA Barkman Park – Photo courtesy
of City of Steinbach.
Tomorrow morning we are joining the year long efforts of the University of
Manitoba's Institute of Transportation Engineers, The U of M Bike Dungeon,
and the WRENCH who have worked throughout the year to build 10 bikes for
youth in need in the Fort Richmond area.
Through our work in the neighbourhood on a project called Bike Walk Roll
Fort Richmond, we were able to support this group to find youth in the
community in need of bicycles, an host an education workshop to help build
the skills necessary to cycle to school.
Here is a great clip, and a story will follow in the Metro as well:
Congratulations to all of the people who have made this happen, we are also
so excited to be a part of it!
*Shoni Litinsky* | Active and Safe Routes to School
Green Action Centre <http://greenactioncentre.ca/>
3rd floor, 303 Portage Avenue* | *(204) 925-3773
Green Action Centre is your non-profit hub for greener living.
Support our work by becoming a
Find us here<http://greenactioncentre.ca/content/ecocentre-directions-and-travel-options/>
Pembina Update for those of you who don't travel the strip daily -
NOT AVOIDING CONSTRUCTION:
I confess - I make a point of NOT avoiding construction on Pembina (Plaza to
Chevrier) too much excitement - unbelievable really - photos attached.
North bound lane is being widened into median.
KEY CBC INTERVIEW:
An absolute MUST LISTEN TO if you have not heard it - and if you have -
listen again - key information for sure.
Yesterday am - a conversation with CBC and Luis Escobar, Director of
Transportation - City of Winnipeg:
CBC Information Radio- http://www.cbc.ca/inforadio/
Scroll down to Winnipeg Major Road Bike Lanes and click on listen button.
TWO KEY POINTS TO NOTE:
1. All along many of us involved with the Pembina project were told
the poly posts (vertical upright buffered barrier posts) would be REMOVED
for the winter season due to plowing challenges- thus removing the visual
indication of the bike lane. From this interview - I understand Luis to
clearly indicate the poly posts will remain IN DURING the winter season with
plowing to occur - brilliant if this is the case with so many cyclists
travelling Pembina in the winter
2. NOTE his discussion around STRATEGIC PLAN (see top right corner by
volume - 8:29 into the interview) and SPECIFICALLY - Luis comments: " . .
. . . until the strategic plan is developed . . . we will still be looking
at the needs BASED ON WHAT the city HEARS from cycling and active
transportation groups. " - an encouragement to all to 'articulate' AT
desires to elected officials for sure -
3. WHAT's NEXT? It's great to hear the question 'what's next' - where
is the next strip of this infrastructure going in - wow -
The Pembina project is a bold move for the city - for sure there is
apprehension - definitely worth a thank you email to your City Councillor
for supporting it and enabling it.
A great story for a hot Friday in the summer! This post can be found
on the Green
Action Centre blog <http://greenactioncentre.ca/2012/pedals-and-a-mower/>and
was written by Bruce Krentz (Burntwood Regional Health Authority) in
Thompson, Manitoba. We are happy that this entrepreneur is a student at one
of the schools we work with up there through School Travel Planning. Go
Pushing pedals and pushing a lawnmower Colin Hall is greening up the
environment and the yards in Thompson. Being a little too young to take
the wheel hasn’t cut in to his earning potential. A mountain bike and a
custom built trailer are all he needs to move around to the growing list of
homes on his client list.
It was a conversation with his Grandfather that got the wheels turning on
his little entrepreneurial venture. ”Why would you work for a few dollars
an hour when you could work for yourself” he asked Colin, in response
queries about where he could find a summer job.
Wayne Hall is not only a businessman himself but also a handyman, so before
Colin could say “Can you drive me there”, Grandpa’s workshop was buzzing;
and so was the kitchen table with negotiations. In the time it took to
build a flat deck bicycle trailer, Grandma had signed on as the pro-bono
accountant and “Colin Hall Lawn Mowing” was up and running.
His rig is right-sized to hold: a lawn mower, weed whacker and a few
sundries, like bug spray water and a log book. When he took delivery, the
shakedown cruise wasn’t just a chance to test its road-worthiness it was
also an advertising stunt. Colin delivered flyers, with his equipment in
tow, attracting more attention than the ice cream man.
This young peddler has secured numerous private contracts and is also doing
work for a local Real-Estate agent. In peak season he is cutting 3 – 5
lawns a day, dependent on all the usual factors like rain, sun and
invitations to things more appealing than cutting grass. Colin smiled as
he explained that it isn’t all work this summer but the grass never stops
growing so if he takes a day or two off, he knows the next ones will be
With those full days, Colin is raking in some significant spending money
for his upcoming grade 8 year. His accountant will hold all the dollars he
piles up, dispersing them equally over the course of the whole year.
“He’ll get a pay-check every Friday even after the grass is under a cozy
blanket of snow” said Grandma. In addition to monetary benefits, his Phys
Ed. teacher will be happy to see that, at least one kid’s mobile device,
was a bicycle and not phone.
Thompson is a great size for his cycle based transportation. He can pack
up and move almost as fast as the competition, without ever gassing up, and
there is enough grass around to keep him in business the entire growing
season. Although with jobs as far as 4 km apart, he is thankful for a
trailer that runs smooth.
Greening things up in Thompson more ways than one, the ambitious, Colin
Hall is a model and an inspiration for us all.
*Shoni Litinsky* | Active and Safe Routes to School
Green Action Centre <http://greenactioncentre.ca/>
3rd floor, 303 Portage Avenue* | *(204) 925-3773
Green Action Centre is your non-profit hub for greener living.
Support our work by becoming a
Find us here<http://greenactioncentre.ca/content/ecocentre-directions-and-travel-options/>
This was released to media today -
So far - all that is happening on Pembina is the delivery of lots of
construction signs and posts.
Description: Description: Description: Description: Description:
Description: Description: Description: Description: Description:
For Immediate Release
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Construction to begin on Pembina Highway Buffered Bike Lanes Project
Project the first-of-its-kind in Winnipeg's Active Transportation network
Winnipeg, MB - Beginning the week of July 23, 2012, the City of Winnipeg
will begin constructing buffered bikes lanes on Pembina Highway between
Crescent and Plaza Drives as part of a rehabilitation project.
Over the next four months, the northbound lanes of Pembina Highway will be
rehabilitated and buffered bike lanes will be added next to the curb lane on
both the northbound and southbound directions. These buffered bike lanes
will connect the Bishop Grandin Greenway and the bike route along Crescent
This section of Pembina Highway is unique on the Active Transportation
network, as it is the only feasible route to connect two existing Active
Transportation facilities. Normally, adjacent streets with lower traffic
volumes would be used for establishing Active Transportation routes.
However, the properties on the east side of this section of Pembina Highway
back onto the Red River and west of this section is an industrial area where
there are no residential streets connecting Chevrier Boulevard to Bishop
When complete, this portion of Pembina Highway will accommodate three
traffic lanes, a buffered bike lane and enhanced bus stops designed to
accommodate larger articulated buses and improved delineation for transit
riders, pedestrians and cyclists.
This project is another step in applying the Council-adopted Transportation
Master Plan as part of OurWinnipeg. These documents outline the vision in
which the City should grow in the next 25 years and specifically how the
transportation system is to provide mobility options to all Winnipeggers.
For more information, visit:
Media inquiries should be directed to the City of Winnipeg Media Inquiry
Line at 204-986-6000 or via email at MediaInquiry(a)winnipeg.ca
Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/cityofwinnipeg
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/cityofwinnipeg
Commuters Pedal to Work on Their Very Own Superhighway
COPENHAGEN — Picture 11 miles of smoothly paved bike path meandering
through the countryside. Largely uninterrupted by roads or intersections,
it passes fields, backyards, chirping birds, a lake, some ducks and, at
every mile, an air pump.
An 11-mile-long path called a bicycle superhighway has opened between
Copenhagen and Albertslund, a western suburb.
For some Danes, this is the morning commute.
Susan Nielsen, a 59-year-old schoolteacher, was one of a handful of people
taking advantage of Denmark’s first “superhighway” for bicycles on a recent
morning, about halfway between Copenhagen and Albertslund, a suburb, which
is the highway’s endpoint. “I’m very glad because of the better pavement,”
said Ms. Nielsen, who wore a rain jacket and carried a pair of pants in a
backpack to put on after her 40-minute commute.
The cycle superhighway, which opened in April, is the first of 26 routes
scheduled to be built to encourage more people to commute to and from
Copenhagen by bicycle. More bike path than the Interstate its name
suggests, it is the brainchild of city planners who were looking for ways
to increase bicycle use in a place where half of the residents already bike
to work or to school every day.
“We are very good, but we want to be better,” said Brian Hansen, the head
of Copenhagen’s traffic planning section.
He and his team saw potential in suburban commuters, most of whom use cars
or public transportation to reach the city. “A typical cyclist uses the
bicycle within five kilometers,” or about three miles, said Mr. Hansen,
whose office keeps a coat rack of ponchos that bicycling employees can
borrow in case of rain. “We thought: How do we get people to take longer
They decided to make cycle paths look more like automobile freeways. While
there is a good existing network of bicycle pathways around Copenhagen,
standards across municipalities can be inconsistent, with some stretches
having inadequate pavement, lighting or winter maintenance, as well as
unsafe intersections and gaps.
“It doesn’t work if you have a good route, then a section in the middle is
covered in snow,” said Lise Borgstrom Henriksen, spokeswoman for the cycle
superhighway secretariat. “People won’t ride to work then.”
For the superhighway project, Copenhagen and 21 local governments teamed up
to ensure that there were contiguous, standardized bike routes into the
capital across distances of up to 14 miles. “We want people to perceive
these routes as a serious alternative,” Mr. Hansen said, “like taking the
bus, car or train.”
The plan has received widespread support in a country whose left- and
right-leaning lawmakers both regularly bike to work (albeit on slightly
different models of bicycle).
Riding on the first superhighway, which grew more crowded as it neared the
city, Marianne Bagge-Petersen said she was heading to a support group for
job seekers. “I think it’s very cool,” she said, noting that the path
allowed her to avoid roads with more car traffic. “Taking the bike makes me
feel good about myself. I’m looking for a job, and if I don’t get out, it’s
going to be a very long day.”
The Capital Region of Denmark, a political body responsible for public
hospitals as well as regional development, has provided $1.6 million for
the superhighway project.
“When we look at public hospitals, we look very much at how to reduce
cost,” said a regional councilor, Lars Gaardhoj, who had just picked up his
three small children in a cargo bike decorated with elephants. “It’s a
common saying among doctors that the best patient is the patient you never
see. Anything we can do to get less pollution and less traffic is going to
mean healthier, maybe happier, people.”
In Denmark, thanks to measures like the superhighway, commuters choose
bicycles because they are the fastest and most convenient transportation
option. “It’s not because the Danes are more environmentally friendly,”
said Gil Penalosa, executive director of 8-80 Cities, a Canadian
organization that works to make cities healthier. “It’s not because they
eat something different at breakfast.”
Lars Gemzo, a partner at Gehl Architects, said that within Copenhagen,
biking was already the best option for many kinds of trips. “If you want to
drive a car for a medium distance, you know you are a fool,” he said. “You
are going to waste time.”
Danish statistics show that every 6 miles biked instead of driven saves 3
1/2 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and 9 cents in health care costs.
But many cite happiness among the chief benefits of bicycle commuting.
“When you have been biking for 30 minutes, you have a really good feeling
about yourself,” said Henrik Dam Kristensen, the minister for transport,
who supports the superhighways. “You really enjoy a glass of wine because
you’ve earned it.”
Frits Bredal, the head of communications at the Danish Cyclists’
Federation, cautioned that the superhighways were not perfect. “Ideally,
there would be no red lights, there would be a perfect pavement, no holes,
no obstacles, a real highway,” Mr. Bredal said.
Several biking innovations are being tested in Copenhagen. Some, like
footrests and “green wave” technology, which times traffic lights at rush
hour to suit bikers, have already been put into place on the superhighway.
Others, like garbage cans tilted at an angle for easy access and
“conversation” lanes, where two people can ride side by side and talk,
might show up on long-distance routes in the future.
Superhighway users can also look forward to some variation on the “karma
campaign,” now under way in Copenhagen, in which city employees take to the
streets with boxes of chocolate to reward cyclists who adhere to the five
rules of cycling: be nice, signal, stay to the right, overtake carefully
and, rather than let bicycle bells irritate you, do your best to appreciate
The next superhighway will link Copenhagen with the municipality of Fureso,
to the northwest. There, the existing bike path takes riders through a
beautiful forest that is, unfortunately, very dark at night.
Last winter, to comply with superhighway standards, Fureso tested
solar-powered lighting. “People were so happy about it,” said Lene
Hartmann, Fureso’s climate project leader. “One rider said, ‘We feel like
the trolls are taking care of us.’ ”
Several years ago, a Fureso resident, Karsten Bruun Hansen, started a “bike
bus,” in which cyclists meet and commute together, taking turns blocking
the wind. (Inspired by Mr. Hansen’s idea, the municipality also created a
bike bus for children to ride to school together.)
Mr. Hansen, who estimates that he personally saves a ton of carbon dioxide
every year, hopes that the superhighway will encourage more people to ride
their bikes. “It’s unavoidable to commute to work,” Mr. Hansen said. “This
way, you are using the time doing something fun.”
Ole Bondo Christensen, Fureso’s mayor, is also looking forward to the
improvements that the superhighway will bring. Mr. Christensen, who does
not own a car, bikes nearly four miles to work every day. “It’s my way to
clear my brain,” he said. “Sometimes I get new ideas.”
This summer, after the rest of the solar-powered lights are installed,
Fureso’s section of the road will be superhighway-ready.
“Now, the wind should always be at your back,” Mr. Christensen said with a
smile. “We are working on that.”
*[further to a previous article re: the chief medical officer in Toronto
calling for reduced residential speed limits across the board, see highlighted
text below - anders]*
Winnipeg council wraps session for summer
Winnipeg's city council checked off a number of outstanding issues from its
list Wednesday as it closed shop for the summer.
Among the decisions made, council approved reduced speeds in school zones,
dropping to 30 km/h from the present 50.
Implementing the move affecting 250 school zones will be expensive, Mayor
Sam Katz admitted.
"You're talking about $4,000 a school — that's No. 1," he said.
"There's concrete involved: You put these in concrete bases, you erect
them, you have to manufacture the signs. You know, this isn't like a yard
sale and you throw up a sign. It's probably more than what most people
However, Katz said he believes the city's Public Works Department is asking
for more money than what might be needed to ensure it won't have to come
back to the city for additional funding.
Because setting speed limits is a provincial responsibility under the
Highway Traffic Act, the city must wait for the province to give the bill
final reading, which is expected by the end of the year.
Once approved, the signs are expected to be erected by spring.
Two councillors wanted to extend the reduction to Winnipeg's residential
streets, a proposal that will be considered in the fall.
[Warning: This is a long but very worthwhile article to read when you have
a few moments and/or need some inspiration. And while it's U.S.-focused,
much, if not all, of it translates to Winnipeg's cultural mix,
concentration of AT facilities in wealthier areas of the city, and personal
safety concerns around cycling in some neighbourhoods. I particularly like
the idea of working to include secure bike parking in public housing units
and outreach/cycling education provided by someone who lives in the
neighbourhood and becomes a role model. -cheers, Beth]
The New Face of
by Carolyn Szczepanski <http://momentummag.com/topics/carolyn_szczepanski_1>
June 13, 2012
*Stereotypes about bicycling are falling away as diverse communities adopt
and promote the cycling lifestyle*
>From every perspective, bicycling was a part of Ed Ewing’s upbringing.
During the summer months, Ewing’s father rode his bike to work. On the
weekends, bike outings were a common family activity. From an early age,
Ewing’s bicycle was his transportation to and from school, football
practice and his summer job.
But, because he rode a bike in a predominantly African-American
neighborhood in Minneapolis, MN, Ewing caught flak from his friends. “They
didn’t understand it,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Are you turning white? Why
are you doing that? Black people don’t bike’.”
The outsider status cut both ways. Inspired by the Tour de France, Ewing
started racing in high school. But out on the local circuit, he was often
the only black cyclist at competitions. “At bike races people were like,
‘Who is this kid?’” he remembers. “There’s this fishbowl effect of everyone
staring at you – and you just want to ride your bike.”
As a young African-American, Ewing didn’t fit the cycling stereotype.
According to the US Department of Transportation, a full 83 percent of
bicycle trips in 2001 were made by whites. As of 2009, Caucasians still
accounted for 77 percent of trips.
But that’s changing. Across North America, people from all cultural and
racial backgrounds are adopting the cycling lifestyle. In fact, according
to a 2011 study from Rutgers researcher John Pucher “cycling rates are
rising fastest among African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans.”
Now living in Seattle, Ewing is propelling that shift. Four years ago he
was approached by the Cascade Bicycle Club. At 14,000 members, Cascade was
already one of the largest bike organizations in the nation – but, Ewing
said, the majority of its membership was 50- to 60-year-old white men.
“We looked at ethnic diversity and gender diversity and realized we have a
responsibility to change those numbers,” Ewing said. “Then we looked at the
communities we served. We do a lot of activism work on bike lanes,
greenways and making streets safe, but a lot of those initiatives were not
in communities of color.”
>From Seattle to Toronto, advocacy organizations and citizen activists are
mobilizing, creating the social and political networks that are redefining
the face of cycling in many neighborhoods and cities. Back in Ewing’s
hometown of Minneapolis, Anthony Taylor helped establish the National
Brotherhood of Cyclists – a rapidly growing coalition of African-American
cycling clubs. The group started 12 years ago with three black women
looking to train for an AIDS benefit ride. Now Taylor flies all over the
country, spreading the message that bicycling can – and must – be
accessible to all.
“To create a true movement in this country, we will have to turn around the
top 25 major metropolitan communities,” Taylor said. “And, from that
perspective, you know who has to be involved? People of color. They will
have to be engaged.”
*The Generational and Cultural Gap*
Like many teenagers, Adolfo Hernandez abandoned his bicycle when he entered
high school. As a kid, he tooled around Little Village, a predominantly
Mexican neighborhood in West Chicago, IL, on two wheels. But when he hit
adulthood, he relied on public transit.
One day, after college, he decided to ride his bicycle 6 miles (10
kilometers) to his job at the YMCA. He braved major arterials roads with
terrifying traffic on an old mountain bike, but still arrived at work
feeling fresh and energized. Hernandez was hooked on the cycling lifestyle.
But his parents, who had emigrated from Mexico, were perplexed.
“A lot of people come to this country, including my parents, with a set
idea of what the American Dream is and what it means to be successful,”
Hernandez said. “I remember my mom and dad saying, ‘Why are you riding a
bike? You can afford a car.’ They didn’t mean it in a derogatory way, but
riding a bicycle, to them, meant not having the means to get around any
other way. In some ways, the car is part of the American Dream.”
According to a 2010 study published in Transport Policy, newly arrived
immigrants are 41 times more likely to ride a bicycle than native-born
Americans – but that propensity plummets to half that in just four years.
Over the course of a decade, immigrants’ automobile mode share rises from
30 to nearly 42 percent, while bicycle mode share drops from 1.8 to 0.5
percent. Income could be a factor, the report suggests, as higher income is
typically associated with higher automobile use.
*Missing Role Models*
Back in Singapore, Stanley Teo rarely rode a bicycle, given the high
temperatures and thick humidity. But when he moved to Toronto, ON in 2003,
economic necessity played a large role in his getting around on two wheels.
“As someone who was new to the country, I was somewhat shocked to find out
how expensive it is to travel around the city on public transportation,” he
Because he lived and worked downtown, bicycling was a means to avoid
gridlock, save money and explore the city, but Teo didn’t immediately feel
welcomed into the cycling fold. “I felt that the bike culture here
– cycling-related social events, media images and interactions on the
streets – was a predominantly and exclusively a ‘white male’ activity,” he
Ewing suggests that one of the barriers to biking is a lack of role models
in the African-American community, as well. “When you grow up as a
minority, you don’t see a lot of minority symbols out there, positive
symbols,” he said. “That subconsciously plays on you your entire life and
it’s a very, very powerful thing.” So when African-American cyclists are
invisible in the media, in popular culture and on the streets of your
community, it diminishes the appeal of bicycling. “It’s not until you see
someone who looks like you doing that activity and being successful that
you see it as possible, as a reality,” he said.
That lack of cultural peers also affected Lacourdaire Camargo, a Latina
cyclist in Chicago. For her parents, who grew up in Mexico, riding bikes
was seen as a luxury for the rich or a means of transportation for working
men. In Chicago, Camargo’s role models for cycling were the outgoing
neighborhood boys of her youth and, as an adult, the eccentric bike
messengers who defied traffic near her downtown office. “Before I started
riding, I viewed cyclists as either hipsters with tattoos or the
power-ranger, Lance-Armstrong individuals,” she said. “I’m a Latina, no
tattoos, and I’m definitely no Jillian Michaels, so I often wonder where I
fit in all this. Truthfully, I still don’t see too many minorities cycling,
though I know they’re out there.”
Taylor suggests the lower rates of cycling in the African-American
community run even deeper. “I believe there are internal conversations
about what it means to be black in this country,” he said. “There are
certain things that white people do and, by me doing them, it somehow makes
me less black.” So while phrases like “Black folks don’t swim” or “Black
folks don’t bike” may not be true, Taylor said, they still hold power
because they are still so widespread.
And, in many communities, the bicycle could be perceived as a threat. “The
last time we had a major fundamental shift in transportation it was the
expansion of highway system – and the African American community was
significantly impacted by it,” Taylor explained. “There’s case after case
after case where that shift literally destroyed historically
African-American neighborhoods, not just displacing people from their
homes, but businesses and cultural centers, too.” And, in some communities,
bicycles are seen as the harbinger of another cultural tidal wave. “For
many, when they see these bike lanes coming into their neighborhoods it
represents gentrification,” Taylor said. “It represents them moving out and
young white people moving in.”
Robynn Takayama, a Japanese-American cyclist in San Francisco, CA,
emphasizes that, while the young white stereotype exists, that’s far from
the true picture of bicycling in the Bay Area. “Some things, like
participation of the [San Francisco] Bicycle Coalition and the more
established bike social circles, you may see those [predominantly white]
demographics,” she said. “But out on the street, getting to and from work,
there’s a lot of diversity.” And, given the transportation culture in many
Asian countries, that doesn’t surprise her.
“I’ve been to Sri Lanka, and people are riding bikes carrying their kids,
carrying their laundry, carrying wares they’re selling on the streets – and
the same in the Philippines,” she said. “When you look at developing
countries, bicycling is an important part of transportation there. It’s not
that people of color don’t bike here, but I think there can be financial
barriers, infrastructure barriers. When you look at some of the lower
income neighborhoods, the potholes there are out of control.”
*Wanted: Access and Infrastructure*
Camargo didn’t have any of the traditional resources for adopting a cycling
lifestyle. There wasn’t a single bike shop in her neighborhood of Little
Village. When she ventured to North Chicago to buy a bike, her new Raleigh
was stolen within a few months. Working downtown, she recognized the
growing ranks of urban professionals riding in to work, but none of those
folks were coming from the South Side, where she lived.
“But, I thought, even if it wasn’t happening on my side of town, it didn’t
mean it was forbidden,” she said. “I decided that if other folks that lived
up North could do it, then I could too. But cycling is a bit more
challenging on the south and west side of Chicago, because there really
aren’t a lot of bike lanes or bike-friendly zones. I feel that there’s a
Certainly, a lack of infrastructure could play a significant role in
stifling cycling in some communities. In California last year, the Los
Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) investigated the intersection of
household income, bicycle safety and bicycle infrastructure in some of LA’s
diverse communities. “There are many high-density urban areas in Los
Angeles County ... that tend to contain much fewer, if any, bicycle
facilities,” the LACBC reported. “Not surprisingly, data shows
disproportionately higher concentrations of pedestrian and bicycle crashes
in low-income areas than in more affluent areas. This presents a major
environmental and social injustice.”
Hernandez said infrastructure equity is an issue in Chicago as well. “Where
the facilities are has a lot to do with where people are riding,” he said.
“For instance, many of our trails are built in the more affluent
communities, so it’s a question of access to even use the facilities in our
city. … If we want diversity among people who ride in the city, we need to
think about how facilities and resources to assist them are allocated… The
biggest culture change is the actual infrastructure that makes it normal to
get around by bike.”
And it’s not just paint on pavement. Takayama said that, when San Francisco
debuts its new bike share system later this year, “I hope there’s strong
outreach into neighborhoods of people of color and low-income people.” But,
as Taylor pointed out, there are cultural considerations to take into
account. In Minneapolis, the initial plans for the Nice Ride bike share
system didn’t include any stations in the Twin Cities’ most concentrated
African-American neighborhoods. But even when that oversight was remedied,
“there was the issue of how we handle this kind of system in a community
that doesn’t use debit cards as much,” Taylor said. “There was the idea
that having debit cards as a prerequisite for using the system was itself
*Safe Streets for All*
Infrastructure and image aren’t the only inhibiting factors in certain
neighborhoods. Genaro Escarzaga, whose parents immigrated to Chicago from
Mexico in the 1980s, didn’t feel safe cycling. “Growing up, I generally
stayed in because of the constant gang presence immediately outside,” he
said. “Shortly after receiving my first real bike, I was assaulted for it
in a different neighborhood. I didn’t feel comfortable riding until
college, when I became a year-round bike commuter.” Now, as a program
instructor for West Town Bikes, he hears those same concerns from other
kids. “Violence discourages the young community from cycling and taking
part in outside activity altogether,” he said.
Hernandez’ first job with the Active Transportation Alliance – where he
worked for five years before taking the helm of Chicago’s Office of New
Americans – was working with Latino families in several area schools,
helping them identify and adopt more active travel habits. The biggest
barriers had little to do with cars or money or cultural mores. It was
“And that didn’t just imply safety from cars, safety in the built
environment, but what’s going on in the streets,” Hernandez said. “Are
there adults on the streets? Are there crossing guards, not just to help
kids cross streets safely, but also to deter crime and violence. That was
an interesting dynamic that we didn’t hear as much about in other parts of
That’s not just true in Chicago. A survey conducted by Engaging Neighbors,
Refugees, Immigrants, in Community Health (ENRICH) in Portland, OR, found
that nearly one-third of parents cited crime as a limiting factor in
allowing their children to bike in their communities.
Ewing hears those concerns, as well. Though they’re given a lock when they
earn a bicycle through the Cascade Bicycle Club Major Taylor program, some
students come back empty-handed within a few days. “Many of our kids live
in apartments and, based on religious belief or cultural beliefs, parents
won’t allow the bike into the home, because the bike is looked at as the
lowest level of transportation,” Ewing said. “So the bike is left outside
and gets stolen.” Now, because of their work with diverse youth, Cascade
advocates are working with city planners to solve that problem by adding
basic amenities like secure bike parking to public housing units.
Those types of partnerships and solutions are blossoming across the
*The Future of the Movement*
Standing at the podium of the Youth Bike Summit, wearing a shy but eager
smile, Alpha Barry proudly professed: “I’m a student, a bike mechanic, a
bike rider and an advocate.”
Growing up in a small village in Guinea, a nation on Africa’s west coast,
Barry said, “Only two families in the village owned a car, and even a
bicycle was a treasure.” Rather than looking forward to a driver’s license,
Barry longed to apprentice in a bike shop, which intoxicated him with the
scent of “grease, oil and hard work.” As a teenager, Barry’s bicycle dream
came true – more than 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers) away, in New York
As a student at Brooklyn International High School, Barry got an internship
at Recycle-A-Bicycle, where he built and learned to maintain his own bike.
For 10 months, he worked with area officials on the planning and
development of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway – a 14-mile (23-kilometer)
multi-use path that passes through a number of multi-cultural communities –
and took his first trip to Washington, DC, for the National Bike Summit.
For Barry, the bicycle became more than a means of transportation. “I see
everything around me in a new way, as if everything has come to life and
everything is suddenly possible,” he said.
Thanks, in part, to organizations like Recycle-A-Bicycle, the next
generation of cyclists will likely look more like Alpha Barry than the past
archetype of the affluent, spandex-wearing white male. The growing
community bike shop movement is widening the movement by providing free or
low-cost bicycles to youth and adults in exchange for their time and
energy. Traditional advocacy groups are more often – and more effectively
– outreaching to diverse neighborhoods, too.
Since the inception of the Major Taylor program, Ewing and Cascade Bicycle
Club have provided bicycles, education and programming to more than 430
students at some of the city’s most diverse schools. The LACBC is just one
of many advocacy groups that have created Spanish-language literature and
education classes. In the US capital, the Washington Area Bicyclist
Association started a new effort in a predominantly African-American
community “East of the Anacostia,” where bicycle infrastructure and
outreach have been virtually nonexistent.
Making those efforts successful, though, depends on not just evangelizing
the merits of bike lanes, but “building genuine relationships for the sake
of building relationships,” Taylor said. It also means understanding
community needs and concerns. “What if we can make bike lanes a strategy
for increasing safety?” Taylor asked. “What if bike lanes become a solution
to connectivity, decreasing these communities’ isolation from an economic
and social standpoint?”
*Progress through Leadership*
Encouraging more adults to ride is a multi-faceted equation. Taylor
believes bicycle education can play a key role – especially if the teacher
is from the same community as the student. This year, Taylor is working
with the League of American Bicyclists to certify 75 African-Americans as
League Cycling Instructors who can be ambassadors, role models and
champions for biking in their communities.
Especially for new immigrants, not understanding the rules of the road can
curb the desire to commute by bike. Angel Chen, who moved to Toronto, from
Taiwan, said in her home country bicyclists are more akin to pedestrians
than cars, so sidewalk riding was common. In Canada, that’s largely illegal.
Programs like the newcomer cycling program helped Chen and Teo by providing
resources, such as route planning and mentorship. “The Toronto Cyclist
Handbook, which explains safety tips and the rules of the road in Toronto,
was published in English and in 16 other languages,” Teo said. “Safety and
other cycling-related workshops were also held at community hubs, other
settlement agencies, libraries and schools. There is also this unique
program called the Bike Host Circle where volunteer cyclist mentors are
matched with newcomer ‘mentees’ to get them familiar with the city through
While riding to work may eliminate costs for gas and transit, Nannette
Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican cyclist in Des Moines, IA, said cost may be a
deterrent for some potential bike commuters. “A large impediment for
emerging populations in the US to adopt cycling is the perception that
there’s a large investment that needs to be made in equipment,” she said.
“Here in Des Moines, we have the Des Moines Bicycle Collective, which
restores and repairs bicycles and sells them very economically, or trades
volunteer work for bikes. Collectives like this need to be promoted to
emerging populations, preferably in their language.”
But perhaps the most overwhelming barrier for bike commuters of color is a
challenge that knows no culture. “Improved infrastructure is key to
building a bicycle constituency,” said Tony Garcia, a Cuban-American urban
planner in Miami, FL. “In the end, what we want is a complete bicycle
network, with an emphasis on protected facilities and neighborhood routes,
that touches all demographics and gets everyone on their bikes.”
After all, the benefits of biking are beginning to resonate even in
communities that historically have been wary of active transportation.
Eight years ago, local officials balked at the installation of bike lanes
on Division Avenue, an iconic street for the Puerto Rican community in
Chicago. “I remember the local alderman saying, ‘We don’t want this bike
lane in our community,’” Hernandez said. “And, for him, it was a matter of
protecting the integrity and culture of that community.” But, less than a
decade later, that same street has new pedestrian crossings and bicycle
facilities, connecting residents to local parks and area jobs. What made
the difference? “We’ve been able to do organizing work and, in reaching
out, instead of talking about bicycling, we’re talking about health,”
Hernandez said. “We’re talking about access to green space and other city
amenities, and bicycling is the vehicle to get us there.”
Local citizens are emerging as grassroots leaders too, creating social
networks that are fostering a sense of solidarity and elevating the
visibility of all cyclists. In Los Angeles, Yolanda Davis-Overstreet
created Ride in Living Color, a film effort that’s gathered the diverse
stories of more than 60 cyclists of color. Across the nation, social rides
like the Black Kids on Bikes ride in East LA and the People of Kolor
Everyday Riding (P.O.K.E.R). Bicycle Familia Ride in San Francisco are
gaining momentum – and reclaiming the streets from long-held stereotypes.
“People think of San Francisco bicycling and they think about bike hipsters
and skinny jeans,” Takayama said. But show up at the P.O.K.E.R. ride, she
suggests, and you’ll see the real face of Bay Area bicyclists
– African-American youth on tricked-out “scraper” bikes, a Latino couple
carrying their new puppies in their front baskets, a fixed-gear-riding
Filipino musician and his bicycling son. “We’re out there,” Takayama said.
“There’s a lot of diversity in terms of who’s using a bicycle to get
The way the movement is going, Hernandez, for one, thinks cyclists like
Takayama and Taylor, Barry and Camargo, won’t be in the minority for long,
especially in the major urban centers. “The idea that biking is a white
thing or poor thing doesn’t exist as much in the youth who are growing up
in diverse, multicultural cities,” Hernandez adds. That gives Taylor cause
After all, he said, the bicycle movement is still in its infant stages.
Even the most bicycle-friendly cities, such as Portland or San Francisco,
have barely breached five percent mode share. “We have not had a movement
yet,” Taylor said with a chuckle. “My new message in these communities of
color is: ‘Guess what? You got here just in time.’ Rather than the sense
that anyone has been left behind, it’s a much more positive, invigorating
message. We have the potential for a great movement – it just hasn’t
*Carolyn Szczepanski is the communications director for the League of
American Bicyclists, which represents the interests of 25,000 individual
cyclists and 700 affiliated organizations in the United States. *
Blood on the bike path: What a tragic accident teaches us about safely
sharing the trails
By Joel Gwadz <http://grist.org/author/joel-gwadz/>
A few weeks ago, just outside of Washington, D.C., a woman was hit and
killed by a man on a bicycle while walking on a paved multi-use trail, aka
a “bike path.” It was a tragic accident. My heart goes out to any and all
that knew and loved her. It also distressed me to read the anti-cyclist
reaction in the comment sections of local online news sources and
neighborhood forums, when all of this could have been avoided with a few
When various news sites reported the story online, the comments were
predictably absurd. There were all sorts of attacks on bikes that reflected
more on anti-bike sentiment than on the incident in question. “The path is
for everyone not a bunch of spandex wearing Armstrong wannabes,” wrote one
commenter. A member of the *Fairfax Underground* forum posted a story about
the incident under this headline: “Bicyclist Mows Down Old Lady and Kills
Her.” “Kill all cyclists,” replied a second member, “problem solved.”
A little more attention to the specifics, and the authors of these remarks
would have known how off-base they were. The bike rider in this incident
was a man in his early 60s. He was riding an $88 department store bike, a
NEXT Power Climber. I doubt that he was training for a race. He claims he
gave both a ring of his bell and an audible, “on your left,” to the elderly
pedestrian. But apparently the alert caused her to step in front of him
rather than out of his way. The collision knocked her backward onto the
pavement, according to the police report, where she struck her head.
Clearly, there are things both people could have done to avoid the
accident. But it is largely the responsibility of bicyclists to avoid
collisions like this. Bikes yield to pedestrians — even on bike paths. Just
as downhill skiers are expected to anticipate and react to other skiers
below them on the slope, it is the responsibility of the cyclist to avoid
collisions and expect the unexpected when overtaking other trail users.
It is important to keep in mind that “bike paths” are generally not solely
for bikes. They are shared spaces that usually accommodate an assortment of
people on foot; runners, hikers, dog walkers, nannies pushing strollers,
kids walking home from school. Then there are the rollerbladers, roller
skaters, skateboarders, people with their dogs on those nearly invisible
extendable leashes, power-walking moms with wild toddlers that should be on
leashes, and a long list of other potentially menacing variables.
Bicyclists should act accordingly. Here are some things to consider:
- Be considerate of other trail users! Give the person you’re passing a
warning either by bell or mouth — a gentle “on your left” usually does the
trick. Give them a chance to react, then make a good, clean pass. Pay extra
attention to small children and dogs.
- Travel at a reasonable pace. This is not the place to try to set the
land speed record. Need a workout? Keep your chain out of the “big ring”
and work on high cadence at lower speeds.
- Slow down in areas that are commonly occupied by slower-moving trail
users. Knowing your trail allows you to know what to expect.
- Obey the traffic laws. Some multi-use trails have speed limits. Most
intersect with roads. Be aware of car traffic when you encounter it.
What do these things tell us about the tragic incident outside of
Washington? From the reports I read, this rider did everything he should
have done. The police apparently agree; he is not being charged with any
So while we are trying to educate cyclists on how to behave more safely on
the bike path, why not give a few tips to other trail users?
- Be aware of other trail users by simply looking and listening. An
occasional glance forward and an occasional glance backwards should tip you
off that there is a cyclist approaching.
- Walk on the right-hand side of the trail. If walking in a group, don’t
block the whole trail. Pinch in and walk single file when faster trail
users approach. Glance back for approaching trail users before U-turning on
- Understand that the Bike Path is basically a roadway for bicycles and
other trail users.
Which brings me back to all the hate that was unleashed on cyclists after
the accident outside of Washington, D.C.
It intrigues me that there are so many people who are anti-cyclist. Do they
feel this strongly about cars? Cars are bigger, heavier, and move faster.
There are more cars than bike on the roads, and they kill more pedestrians.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety
4,280 pedestrians were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in
2010. Another 70,000 were injured. Statistics about pedestrians killed or
injured in crashes with bikes are hard to find.
What so many people fail to understand is that most cyclists are hyper
alert and super cautious. A collision on a bike, whether with a car or a
pedestrian, puts the cyclist at risk.
And yet, when we see a tragedy like this, instead of viewing people on
bikes as individuals, the haters have clumped a very complex subculture of
many groups and subgroups into one simple identity — those evil “spandex
wearing Armstrong wannabes.” They seem to love to take their show-and-tell
experience of being buzzed by a cyclist as the general behavior of all
In the end, it is a matter of common sense and common courtesy.
Is this accident a wake-up call for bicyclists to be more careful and more
considerate? Yes, but this notion of being more considerate of others
should apply across the board. It’s certainly something I would love to see
from the car drivers as they approach pedestrians and cyclists on the road.
*Joel Gwadz bikes and blogs in Washington, D.C. His 7-year-old son has
accused him of being obsessed with bikes, and he admits that bicycle grease
pumps through his veins. Read more of his rants on bicycling and see his
photos on his blog, Gwadzilla <http://gwadzilla.blogspot.com/>.*